Korea Protests Against Japan's Forced-Labor Whitewash

  • By Lee Ha-won, Roh Suk-jo

    June 16, 2020 09:53

    Japanese Ambassador Koji Tomita leaves the Foreign Ministry office in Seoul on Monday.

    The government lodged a protest against Japan on Monday for whitewashing forced labor from its industrial history at an exhibition center that opened in Tokyo.

    The Foreign Ministry summoned Japanese Ambassador Koji Tomita to lodge the protest and issued a statement expressing "deep regret" over the historical revisionism on display at the new Industrial Heritage Information Center in Tokyo.

    Tomita claimed that his government "faithfully adhered" to the recommendations of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in 2015, when it listed 23 industrial facilities that played an important role in Japan's modernization.

    The center makes no mention of the often brutal conditions suffered by Korean forced laborers, many of whom died in a notorious coal mine on Hashima Island, one of the listed sites.

    Japan's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Naoki Okada told reporters that the Japanese government "fully accepted" the recommendations by the committee and "exhibited" its pledge to the international community.

    But the exhibit contains only the word "pledge" but no details of what the pledge might be. When asked if the Japanese government intends to add more exhibits in response to Korea's protest, Okada simply reiterated the formula.

    The latest whitewash by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's far-right government has further soured Seoul-Tokyo relations, which were already at breaking point over compensation orders by Korean courts for the victims of forced labor, and scuppered recent hopes of a thaw.

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